5 Travel Bag Solutions for the Digital Nomad and Business Traveler
Finding the right travel bag is challenging under any circumstances. But as a digital nomad and semi-frequent business traveler, I’ve found it extra challenging. Factor in my need to carry specialized camera equipment and a 17-inch laptop, and perhaps you’ll begin to see why this quest has sent me nearly over the edge. This list has narrowed however, and I’ve managed to find several bags that fit the bill without the outrageous prices normally seen for specialized professional luggage. My solution? I’m going commando.
No, not that type of commando. What I’m talking about here is shopping for a travel bag made of ballistic nylon that’s sturdy enough to stand up to a bit of abuse and able to serve me seamlessly between adventure and business-travel excursions. One of the best ways to find that type of travel bag is to search out the type of gear purchased by special forces soldiers, police officers, and SWAT professionals. These people don’t exactly get paid the big bucks, yet have gear transport and light packing needs that closely parallel those of a digital nomad or business traveler. (See also: 7 Tips for Single Bag Travel)
Tech equipment needs to be inserted and extracted easily, sturdiness is a huge concern, and storage capacity is paramount. The cleaning and care that comes with special ops gear is way less than with leather, and I can substitute my smart phone for the traditional sidearm to have easy, exterior-pocket access to on-the-road messages.
The following list includes several travel bag ideas that are currently on my radar. While not available at department store prices, these bags cost far less than most of the camera and media bags I’ve see priced at hundreds of dollars. And since I use thrift store luggage and Dollar Tree travel items where I can, the saved funds can be channeled to specialty gear like this when needed.
Designed with larger, 17-inch laptops in mind, this tactical attaché case has room for your computer and a fair amount of other gear. There are loads of extra pockets on the outside, making the organization of road warrior office supplies a simpler scenario than it otherwise would be. It has plenty of space for electrical outlet adapters, door wedges, and other travel supplies I buy at the hardware store, as well as battery packs, cell phone chargers, a water bottle, and emergency power bars. Coming in at just shy of $130 USD, it definitely costs more than a duffel, but provides additional functionality I don’t mind dishing out for. I may have to use this in tandem with another bag if my camera equipment is coming with, but I’m putting it on the list because it is definitely in the running for my bag of choice and is a perfect bag for those who don’t have to worry about lugging a digital SLR.
Also capable of holding a 17-inch laptop, the patrol bag provides a fair amount of functionality as well and could also be a useful resource for floating educators who need to move from classroom to classroom. I like the flexibility with this one, and the fact that it has straps on the outside that allow you to clip on peripheral storage items. At a cost of roughly $80, you get storage and functionality that aren’t available with your average single-compartment bag.
Military Ops Shoulder Bag
The military ops shoulder bag has a wider strap for weight distribution, which is important for a digital nomad or business traveler with a boatload of gear to carry. Trust me, once you’ve had to do the O.J. Simpson dash across multiple airports in a twelve-hour period, you’ll be glad for any shoulder relief you can get. While the jury is still out on whether I’ll be able to embrace downsizing to a 15-inch laptop with the type of work I do, I am definitely grooving with the fact that this travel bag can handle both a laptop and camera equipment while looking fairly low key. The last thing any business traveler or digital nomad wants is to look like they’re carrying as much tech gear as they actually are. It’s a lousy security practice that just begs for trouble. So avoiding it with a bag like this that still gets the transport job done is a much safer travel bet. And at less than $130, it’s an affordable piece for the specialized functionality it provides.
The Tenba Large Messenger Bag
While technically not a military or law enforcement gear bag, it’s available in black rip-stop nylon with steel rings, which means it provides similar functionality while fitting a large, 17-inch laptop, camera gear, and lots more with a water-resistant bottom panel that stays flat on the ground. The large Tenba messenger bag also offers discreet access to equipment and allows you to reach numerous items from the top without having to open the entire bag and exposing expensive gear you may not want to draw attention to. At a cost of roughly $110, this one provides a fair amount of bang for the buck.
Military-Grade Multipurpose Bag
This multipurpose military bag can hold a 17-inch laptop, camera, and other gear. It’s the extra large version of Maxpedition’s other multipurpose bags and designed to stand up to the type of use that law enforcement professionals need. I like the fact that this particular travel bag can easily be adapted for other packing needs, which is helpful when you are going to be dishing out for a more expensive piece. And at nearly $200, the Maxpedition multipurpose bag is the most expensive of the affordable gear bags I’ve narrowed this list down to. I’ve included it because for those who need extra industrial-strength sturdiness with their travel bag, it’s nice to know there’s one out there that can also handle your tech gear. I’ll likely stick with one of the other four bags, but those who are looking for such a piece of luggage should know it’s out there.
It’s probably obvious by now, but I’m still making up my mind as to which travel bag I’m going to purchase. This list represents over a year of searching, and hundreds of other bags that I have priced, researched, and read reviews for. Finding the final five has been quite a quest, to say the least. Regardless of which one (or ones) I finally purchase, I wanted others to know these options were there and also to ask for input.
Is anyone who’s reading involved in the same line of work that I am? Or one of the professions these types of bags were designed for? And if so, have you used any of these bags? As I said, the jury’s still out, so I’m open to suggestions and information while I’m in the process of making my final decision. If you are a digital nomad or business traveler looking for the ultimate travel bag, this article was written with you in mind. I hope you found it helpful.
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